Eight tips for Windows Phone 8

5. What about those Office programs?

The Office hub

For the first time ever, you can get real, live Office documents on your Windows Phone. Located in the Office hub are options to open and work on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents—albeit in a somewhat limited fashion. Additionally, OneNote Mobile and SharePoint Workspace Mobile are also available.

The Office hub also contains a Recent tab, where you can find documents you’ve recently worked on, and a Places tab, where you can find documents located on your phone, attachments opened from email, or documents saved on SkyDrive. There is support for several file types.

Once you’ve used Exchange to copy documents to your phone, you can pick right up where you left off and edit them. Just open your document from the Places or the Recent tab then edit away using the pencil icon in Word or the function icon in Excel. Not all functionality is supported, but you can navigate the document by tapping anywhere within it and hitting Outline. You can zoom in and out, copy text and paste it into other files or messages on your phone, format text, and work on Excel workbooks, and pin any of the documents to the Start screen.

To delete documents, go to the Places tab, then tap Phone and tap and hold the selected document. Tap Delete, then confirm or hit the back button to cancel. To access Office documents that are protected, tap Need credentials and then enter the username and password from the specified email account. It’s also a good idea to back up your documents using SkyDrive.

6. How do I create a backup?

SkyDrive backs up to the cloud

There is nothing more important than having a solid backup; because Windows Phone 8 is integrated with SkyDrive, it’s incredibly easy to back up your data should you find yourself in the worst-case scenario.

SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud service, can be turned on or off from the Settings section of your Windows Phone 8 handset, although you will need to sign in with your Microsoft account to enable backup. From Settings, choose Backup, and then pick what you’d like to include.

Backing up your Windows phone can save texts messages, photos, videos, a list of installed apps, accounts you’ve set up, Internet Explorer favorites, and phone settings including call history, location, speed, and lock screen. Backup cannot save apps themselves or the data located within those apps, but apps can be easily reinstalled from the app list (which is backed up). If you need to restore your phone, keep in mind the Start screen will default to its original set of Live Tiles, and you’ll need to set up Wi-Fi connections again. It’s also worth noting that turning off backup for text messages will not delete previously saved messages. To do that, you’ll need to first turn on backup, and then delete the messages from your phone.

If you find yourself needing to restore a backup to your Windows Phone 8,  just sign in using the same Microsoft account you used to create the backup and when prompted, choose which backup you’d like to use. Tap Next, and wait for it to download, then tap Next again. You’ll need to enter in passwords for your restore accounts, or you can skip this step and just hit Done.

7. How do I set up the Wallet feature?

The Wallet hub

One of the new features available on Windows Phone 8, Wallet is a secure place to store credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards, membership cards, and coupon information. From there, you can keep track of balances and transactions, set up payment for app, music, and game purchases, and browse for deals in your area.

Again, you’ll need to be signed into your Microsoft account. If you’ve previously made a purchase using this account, it’s likely that you already have a card on file. If that’s the case, your card should show up in Wallet after you’ve logged in with your Microsoft account information. If your bank has an app that can be linked to that card, Wallet will try to find it and suggest that you download it. If you open a Wallet compatible app and sign in, you will have access to your account directly from Wallet. Alternatively, you can manually add cards by tapping the + icon and following the instructions.

Information in the Wallet can be kept secure using a Wallet PIN (recommended, but not required). To set up a PIN for Wallet, go to Wallet, then tap the More ellipses and choose Settings + Pin. Turn on the slider switch, then enter and confirm your new PIN and tap Done. You can also opt to use the wallet Pin to protect music, apps, and in-app purchases by checking a box on this screen.

Cards that you use frequently can be set up as “Fast cards,” which will enable you to pay for something using NFC even when your phone is locked. That said, Wallet doesn’t necessarily mean that your Windows Phone 8 phone is enabled for NFC transactions. If your phone does handle NFC transactions, you’ll see an option to turn them on under the Settings + Pin tab in Wallet.

8. How do I edit photos?

Cropping an image

To edit a photo, open it and tap the More ellipses, and then tap Edit. The Edit menu along the bottom has options to Crop, Rotate, or Fix.

Tapping Rotate rotates the image counter-clockwise; tapping Crop brings up a grid that you can drag and pinch to crop the image. Fix will automatically apply common photographic fixes such as color temperature, exposure, and shadow and highlight adjustment particularly tuned to that image. Tap the floppy disc Save icon to save changes. To edit a photo you’ve just taken, tap back or flick right and then tap the ellipses.

If Fix isn’t really doing the trick, you can find third-party lenses to edit your photo. These apps are available in the Windows Phone Store and they work right in the camera’s viewfinder. Some lenses apply filters, some turn images into 3D panoramas. To browse lenses, choose the Lenses icon from the Camera. Your phone will display any lenses already on the handset and you can tap the Find more lenses link to search the Store for additional options.

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